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Royals scratch and claw before hanging on to beat Tigers, 7-5

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The Royals kept constant pressure on Tigers pitching and walked away with the win

Andrew Benintendi drives in the first two runs of the game Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of those games where it’s hard to really point to any single moment that felt like the moment where the game was won. Everyone - with a couple of notable exceptions - just kind of showed up and did their jobs well enough without being outstanding and the team took another win.

Brady Singer was fine, though not spectacular. He allowed three runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out six, allowed two walks, and six hits. It was nearly the very definition of a quality start. His stuff didn’t feel dominant but he didn’t miss out over the middle a lot either. He just went out and did his job.

The offense scored seven runs; five of which were scored off of Tigers’ starter Matt Boyd. Boyd’s ERA skyrocketed from 2.45 to 3.08 in this, his worst start of the 2021 season so far. The Tigers managed only a single 1-2-3 inning all night and the Royals put their leadoff runner on in five of the first six innings. The Royals decided against any big innings but scored in six of their eight innings. Here’s a list of how they scored:

  • First inning: Andrew Benintendi two-run single
  • Fourth inning: Michael A. Taylor doubled a run home down the leftfield line. Nicky Lopez hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Taylor.
  • Fifth inning: This was the most interesting inning; Carlos Santana led off the inning with a single, went to second on Salvador Perez’s deep flyball, to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on Benintendi’s slow roller single to second that beat the shift. (see video below)
  • Sixth inning: Nicky Lopez leads off with a double just inside the third-base bag and comes home on a Santana sacrifice fly
  • Seventh inning: Kelvin Gutierrez grounded out and Benintendi scored

Scott Barlow had another adventure of an outing in the seventh inning. He came on to relieve Singer with one on, nobody out, and a three-run lead. He immediately gave up a single and walk to load the bases. He then proceeded to strike out Jeimer Candelario and Miguel Cabrera, each looking and each on 3-2 counts.

Jake Brentz had an easy 1-2-3 inning without striking out or walking anyone. It was only the second time in his short big-league career where he faced more than one batter and did neither. Then Staumont came on to pitch the ninth in a non-save situation.

There has been some concern among the Royals fans of the internet that Staumont’s velocity was down when he pitched on Wednesday. The good news is that his velocity had returned, today. He hit 99 a couple of times and never dipped below 95.8. The bad news is that he had no idea where his pitches were going. The first four runners he faced reached, including a two-run home run, and suddenly a comfortable lead saw the go-ahead run come to the plate with no one out in Miguel Cabrera. Greg Holland began warming in the bullpen.

Staumont got a popup into right from Cabrera but then gave up a single to Niko Goodrum to load the bases. Staumont had thrown 24 pitches to 6 batters and earned only a single out. Matheny left him in. Staumont struck out Jonathan Schoop looking with a 98 MPH fastball right on the inside corner. With 32 pitches under his belt, Matheny left Staumont out there to try and finish the game. Four pitches later, Josh Staumont got Willi Castro to swing over the top of the fastest pitch thrown all night at 100.2 MPH.

Notes

  • Between Hanser Alberto and Nicky Lopez the Royals saw three bunts and a sacrifice fly in the first four plate appearances for the eight and nine hitters. I have to think that’s a pretty rare occurrence outside of NL games.
  • Homeplate umpire Lance Barrett did not have the most consistent strike zone of all time. But it generally favored the Royals, and especially Brady Singer.
  • Jorge Soler was 0-4 with three strikeouts. Nicky Lopez now has a higher OPS. I will continue my campaign for the big DH to get a couple of days off.

The Royals find themselves in a similar situation to the one they were in last Saturday. They’re still only two games under .500 and five games back of the division lead since the White Sox lost today. They could strongly benefit their cause by winning tomorrow to take the series. But they probably will not have their two best relievers available after Barlow threw 23 pitches and Staumont threw 36. Last week the lack of Barlow and Staumont saw Wade Davis blow a save in the ninth inning and prevent the Royals from gaining important ground.

The Royals will ask a lot from their starter, Kris Bubic (0-0 0.96 ERA.) Fortunately, he’s been extremely good since being recalled from the minors. The Tigers will counter with Casey Mize (3-3 3.69.) It’s not going to be an easy game, but if the Royals want to fight their way back into the early-season playoff race they probably need to find ways to win games like it.